Lyme Disease In Dogs: It’s Not As Scary As You Think

Marie Gagne
 lyme disease in dogs

“Help! My dog tested positive for Lyme disease! The vet says he needs antibiotics for four to six weeks … What should I do?”

This is a common scenario these days.

My first questions are always, “How’s your dog doing? What symptoms are you seeing?” And the response is usually, “Oh, he seems just fine … happy and healthy, no symptoms at all!”

My answer … your dog probably doesn’t have Lyme disease!

Let me explain.

What A Positive Lyme Disease Test Really Means

A positive Lyme test only indicates that your dog has antibodies to Borrelia burgdorferii (Bb). This is the bacterium associated with Lyme disease.

It means your dog got exposed and mounted an immune response! It doesn’t mean your dog is sick with Lyme disease. 

The dirty little secret is that Lyme-positive dogs rarely show any signs of illness. Researchers haven’t even been able to create illness by infecting dogs in the lab!

So there seems to be much ado about nothing when it comes to “Lyme disease” in dogs.

Lyme Disease Is Different In Dogs

Dogs and humans experience Lyme disease differently. But conventional treatment for dogs uses the human model. And that doesn’t work so well.

Misdiagnosis, antibiotic-associated problems, and treatment failures are common in humans with Lyme. So this carries over to the veterinary side as well.

In some cases, antibiotics help treat severe infections. But Lyme doesn’t really fit in this class.

And these drugs can actually work against disease resolution. There’s definite evidence that antibiotics …

  • Delay host immunity.
  • Can promote a state of perpetual illness (aka chronic Lyme in humans).

Lyme And Immunodeficiency

It’s more accurate to classify Lyme disease as an immunodeficiency disease.

The organism Bb isn’t the actual cause of illness in most cases. Healthy individuals aren’t affected by the Lyme organism. A state of illness must precede infection.

Other examples of immunodeficiency diseases in dogs are parvo and kennel cough

Allopathic (conventional) medicine is very materialistic. It sees the microorganism as the root cause of disease.

But in fact … the power of all diseases to cause illness depends on …

  • Susceptibility
  • Exposure
  • Existing chronic disease state

Not every individual gets sick every time.

This seems obvious … but we often forget it when fear takes hold. And conventional doctors apply pressure to the situation.

The “Experts” Agree

The American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) is the ultimate authority. At least when it comes to the allopathic veterinary world.

A group of ACVIM diplomates published guidelines in 2006, and updated them in 2018. The paper is an interesting explanation and summary. It lists recommendations for the conventional approach to Lyme disease in small animals (dogs and cats). 

But it seems most of the veterinary community hasn’t read this … or is ignoring it.

Here are some of the high points, and the ACVIM’s conclusions …

  • Unlike exposed humans, 95% of exposed dogs remain asymptomatic (meaning they aren’t sick!). 
  • Researchers have never been able to cause Lyme disease in experiments by putting infected ticks on dogs.
  • Renal, cardiac, neurologic or skin disease attributed to Lyme have not been reproduced in experiments with dogs.
  • In some Lyme endemic areas, 70 to 90 percent of all dogs have Lyme antibodies, yet most are healthy with no symptoms.
  • No individual test result documents illness from Lyme infection. 
  • Positive tests only show exposure to Bb, not clinical disease.
  • Titer strength doesn’t relate to presence or absence of disease.

Don’t Test Healthy Dogs

In fact, ACVIM argues against routine screening of healthy dogs … for these reasons:

  • Routine testing results in over-diagnosis and over-treatment. And that’s based on a test that doesn’t diagnose Lyme disease or predict its occurrence.
  • Most positive dogs never become ill with Lyme disease and don’t need treatment.
  • Over-treatment with incomplete removal of Bb can result in resistant strains.
  • Overuse of antibiotics generally increases other microbial resistance in the environment. And that’s a bad thing for everyone. 
  • Not all dogs have a clean bill of health even after one month of treatment.
  • Immunity isn’t permanent; treated dogs can get reinfected.
  • Drugs used to treat Lyme disease have potential side effects.
  • Detection of positive results could cause unnecessary owner distress and expense. And there could be potential drug reactions in dogs who don’t even need treatment.

Don’t Give Lyme Vaccines

And finally …

Most ACVIM members don’t recommend Lyme vaccination … due to poor efficacy and safety concerns.

This is true even in Lyme-endemic areas.

The Homeopathic View Of Lyme Disease

A well-known homeopath, Ron Whitmont MD, published an article on homeopathy and Lyme disease. It shows the great potential of dealing with this problem without resorting to drugs … (just in case it ever becomes a real issue with dogs).

He first states that Lyme disease in humans has three stages. Let’s look at the difference in the way Lyme progresses in humans compared to dogs …

Stage 1 – Early localized disease; first 1-2 weeks. The famous bull’s eye skin rash appears during this time.

(This is the stage for most dog cases … after you find and remove an engorged tick. That’s when the fear of Lyme kicks in!)

Stage 2 – Early disseminated disease; from 3 weeks to several months. Polyarthritis, fibromyalgia-like symptoms, and less commonly kidney, neurologic and other deeper symptoms

(Dogs rarely if ever get to this stage … or stage 3).

Stage 3 – Late chronic disease; from ten months to several years. Humans develop more severe arthritis and neurologic, cardiac, and kidney diseases. This are also usually progressive. 

(Dogs aren’tt known to get to this stage).

Ledum Used For Lyme Disease

A popular homeopathic medicine used for Lyme disease is Ledum palustre, made from wild rosemary. Most protocols use 200C or 1M potencies once or twice daily for 3 days after known tick exposure. 

Any remedy that can cause symptoms similar to a disease may also be a good preventative for that same illness.

It’s easy to see the similarity between Ledum and then symptoms of Lyme disease by reading a Materia Medica. Materia Medica is the reference homeopaths use to study remedies and their associated symptoms.

Here are a few symptoms for Ledum from Lippe, Red Line and Keynote Symptoms:

  • Adapted to rheumatic or gouty diathesis or constitution
  • Painful knots on joints
  • Hot swelling of painful joints
  • Acute and chronic arthritis
  • Gout (joint pain or swelling)
  • Stings of insects (esp mosquitoes)
  • Sleeplessness; restlessness; tossing about
  • Worse from motion, walking; at night; warmth
  • Better with cold applications; resting; cool air

And others from Cowperthwaite’s Materia Medica:

  • Rheumatism of small joints
  • Painful hard nodes and calcareous concretions on joints
  • Hip joint pain; worse walking or when touched
  • Cracking in knee (stifle), painful when walking
  • Swelling of feet, with pain
  • The limbs and whole body are painful as if bruised or beaten
  • Heat of bed intolerable
  • Skin has red, pimply eruptions; corrosive itchy skin

These are just a few of the more obvious symptoms that are similar to those of Lyme disease syndrome. Many other remedies might also help, based on the symptom picture at the time.

Final Thoughts About Lyme Disease In Dogs

Homeopathy demonstrates worldwide effectiveness in treating a variety of infectious diseases. In fact, it has over 200 years of amazing success in epidemics, human and animal.

As a dog owner, don’t give in to the fear and hype surrounding Lyme disease. Be mindful of the reality of its rarity … and of the power of homeopathy to cure if it does occur.

Visit to find a homeopathic vet to help with your dog’s journey to health.

Written By Todd Cooney DVM

Dr Todd Cooney DVM CVH trained at Purdue University for undergraduate studies and veterinary school. After almost twenty years of conventional practice, he took Dr Richard Pitcairn's Professional Course in Veterinary Homeopathy and changed the way he viewed health and disease. Dr Cooney began to use homeopathy in his practice before he had even finished the course, and now uses it exclusively on all of his cases. Visit his website at
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